The United Protestant Church of France: day one!
Merger of Protestant churches in France takes effect
Message to the parishes and local churches, to the members and ministers of the French Lutheran Church (EELF) and the Reformed Church of France (ERF) from their respective synods (General Synod of the EELF and National Synod of the ERF), meeting jointly in Belfort from 17th to 20th May 2012.
Brothers and sisters.
This has been a time of grace. A new chapter opens in the life of our Churches – or rather, the life of our Church.
The two synods, meeting in Belfort, have adopted the instruments that will organise the life of the United Protestant Church of France: a constitution, articles of association, and so on (). We have achieved the aim set by the synods when they met in Sochaux in 2007: the United Protestant Church of France – Lutheran and Reformed communion will be fully operational in 2013!
This decisive step will determine our future. It has been made possible by the tireless exertion over many years of the teams who have prepared the decisions, by the commitment of the local communities and councils of elders, by the detailed and attentive work of the regional synods and the joint preparatory assembly. We are indebted to one another for this success, for which we can offer reciprocal congratulations.
Together, though, we would like to express our gratitude to God. “Listen: God is speaking to us…” Yes, we believe that God’s Spirit is leading us in this effort of hospitality and renewal; yes, we believe God is calling us to a more adventurous and more confident witness to God’s gospel for the world. Yes, let us thank God for the union that is being created, and for the way forward that it has opened!
In a few days, once the articles of association of the national union have been filed, the United Protestant Church will have legal status. In the autumn, the local churches will adopt their new articles of association. In March 2013, the regional synods will elect their regional officers and their delegates to the national synod. In May and June of next year, we will celebrate the birth of the United Protestant Church of France ().
We live on confidence received from God, a shared and contagious confidence. This word of grace, first and last, is the good news which we discover in Scripture. It is the message which the Protestant Reformation brought back to the forefront. It has never been more relevant than it is today. On the basis of this confidence, the United Protestant Church of France aspires to be a Church that attests to its faith, a Church of witnesses, a confessing Church.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us,
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations,
for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
1. The authentic versions of these documents will be available for consultation on our website (www.eglise-protestante-unie.fr) as soon as they have been finalised. Other synodal documents are also available, in particular the message from the Presidents (Jalons pour une Eglise d’attestation – Benchmarks for an attesting Church).
2. At the first national synod of the United Church, guests from near and far will be welcomed at a day of solemn ceremony; during the evening and the night of Friday 10th May, a vigil will be held on the theme “Listen: God is speaking to us”, facilitated by a number of different leaders, including Sisters from Reuilly and Pomeyrol and Brothers from Taizé. On Saturday 11th May a thousand people are expected to attend the solemn celebration, exhibitions, round tables, thanksgiving service and other events.
During June, parishes will be asked to hold an “inauguration service”. This will be an opportunity, at local level and in communion with one another, for rejoicing, welcome and witness.
The regional synods will be given all the relevant details in the autumn of 2012. They will be presented with the new logo of the United Protestant Church of France, which is now being prepared on the basis of the responses to the call for ideas under the title Dessine-moi l’Eglise unie (draw me a united Church), and informed about the equipment and accessories (exhibition, publications etc.) to be sent to the parishes in the spring of 2013 for the services of inauguration.